Совет национальной безопасности (англ. National Security Council, сокращённо СНБ) — консультативный орган при президенте США для решения наиболее важных вопросов национальной безопасности и внешней политики, и координации действий всех основных ведомств, связанных с указанными вопросами.
Совет национальной безопасности был создан в 1947 году законом о национальной безопасности. Его созданию послужила убеждённость влиятельных американских политиков в том, что дипломатия Государственного департамента США больше не была способна сдерживать СССР при напряжённых отношениях между СССР и США. Конечной целью его создания было обеспечение согласованности действий между военно-морскими силами, Корпусом морской пехоты, сухопутными войсками и военно-воздушными силами США.
Заседание СНБ: президент Барак Обама, Госсекретарь Хиллари Клинтон, Министр обороны — Роберт Гейтс, Заместитель начальника ОКНШ — ген. Кэртрайт, директор разведки Деннис Блэр, советник президента Грег Крейг, директор ЦРУ Леон Панетта, заместитель начальника Совета внутренней безопасности Том Донилон, советник президента по национальной безопасности ген. Джеймс «Джим» Джонс и глава президентской администрации Рэм Эмануел
TRUMP GOES ZERO FOR ONE in Washington -- COSTA, PARKER and RUCKER with a BRUTAL headline: ‘The closer? The inside story of how Trump tried -- and failed’ -- GOLDMACHER and DAWSEY: Trump ‘gets TAMED’ by DC
THE PLAYBOOK BANNER HEADLINE -- “0-1”THE WASHINGTON POST BANNER HEADLINE: “Trump and Ryan meet defeat” http://bit.ly/2mhPwQ1THE TICK-TOCKS -- TIM ALBERTA in Politico Magazine, “Inside the GOP’s Health Care Debacle: Eighteen days that shook the Republican Party—and humbled a president”: It was Thursday afternoon and members of the House Freedom Caucus were peppering the president with wonkish concerns about the American Health Care Act … when Trump decided to cut them off. ‘Forget about the little s***,’ Trump said, according to multiple sources in the room. ‘Let’s focus on the big picture here.’ ... [But for] many of the members, the ‘little s***’ meant the policy details that could make or break their support for the bill—and have far-reaching implications for their constituents and the country.” http://politi.co/2n28HJK--“‘The closer’? The inside story of how Trump tried — and failed — to make a deal on health care,” by WaPo’s Bob Costa, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker: “Shortly after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled the Republican health-care plan on March 6, President Trump sat in the Oval Office and queried his advisers: ‘Is this really a good bill?’ ... Even as he thrust himself and the trappings of his office into selling the health-care bill, Trump peppered his aides again and again with the same concern, usually after watching cable news reports chronicling the setbacks, according to two of his advisers: ‘Is this really a good bill?’ In the end, the answer was no -- in part because the president himself seemed to doubt it. ... Realizing the health-care plan did not have the support to pass, Trump and Ryan decided Friday afternoon to pull the bill -- news Trump announced in a phone call with The Post, before Ryan even had time to personally brief GOP members. ‘Just another day,’ Trump said in the call. ‘Just another day in paradise, okay?’” http://wapo.st/2nyP007**SUBSCRIBE to Playbook: http://politi.co/2lQswbh -- GREAT READ: “Trump gets tamed by Washington: The businessman president finds after the defeat of health care reform that legislating isn’t as easy as making real estate deals,” by Shane Goldmacher and Josh Dawsey with Tara Palmeri and Jake Sherman: “For weeks Trump had seemed disinterested and disengaged from the specifics of the health care fight, both behind closed doors with his aides and at public rallies. Trump ‘just wanted to get something he could sign,’ said one adviser who talks to him frequently. ‘He was over it.’ He would often interrupt conversations on the law to talk about other issues, advisers and aides said.“In one phone call with Ryan earlier this month, Trump told the House speaker that he had a problem with the bill. It wasn’t over Medicaid expansion, maternity coverage, deductibles or insurance premiums. Rather, it was that he didn’t like the word ‘buckets’ -- which Ryan had been using to describe the parts of their plan. ‘I don't like that word buckets. You throw trash in buckets. I don't like that word,’ Trump said, according to two people familiar with the call. Trump preferred ‘phases.’ Ryan agreed and adopted the term.” http://politi.co/2ogupuGWHAT AMERICA IS WAKING UP TO -- N.Y. POST: “Is there a doctor in the house?: Trump headache after health bill is D.O.A.” http://bit.ly/2nmXS8m … NYT: “G.O.P. REVOLT SINKS BID TO VOID HEALTH LAW” http://bit.ly/2lQe4yw … ARIZONA REPUBLIC: “GOP pulls its plan to kill ‘Obamacare’” http://bit.ly/2o3ATO5 … L.A. TIMES: “REPUBLICAN REPEAL OF OBAMACARE IMPLODES: Trump agrees to stop vote on House bill amid GOP opposition” http://bit.ly/2nQ0VqH … DENVER POST: “Down and out … Ryan: GOP ‘came really close today, but we came up short” … President: ‘The best thing is to let Obamacare explode’” http://bit.ly/2nyMuH3THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO UNDERSTAND -- From new POLITICO Aaron Lorenzo: “The GOP was counting on wiping out nearly $1 trillion in Obamacare taxes to help finance the sweeping tax cuts they’ve got planned for their next legislative act. And now it’s unclear where all that money will come from.” http://politi.co/2o3NzEPFOR THE RECORD -- Donald Trump called the Washington Post's Bob Costa and the New York Times' Maggie Haberman to discuss the failure of the health care bill Friday. Yes, the New York Times and Washington Post.QUOTE OF THE DAY -- REP. TOM ROONEY (R-FLA.) to The Atlantic’s Russell Berman: “I’ve been in this job eight years, and I’m wracking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that’s been something positive, that’s been something other than stopping something else from happening. We need to start having victories as a party. And if we can’t, then it’s hard to justify why we should be back here.” http://theatln.tc/2nTv4ptPRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’s Twitter feed has been silent this morning except for wishing “Happy #MedalOfHonorDay to our heroes!”. But he will be on the move, according to pooler BuzzFeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo.FLOTUS MELANIA TRUMP is at Mar-A-Lago with Barron Trump for spring break. She attended a VIP cocktail reception Friday night before the Palm Beach County’s GOP Lincoln Dinner. Pic by Scott Mahaskey http://bit.ly/2mBY6ty (h/t Darren Samuelsohn)QUICK THOUGHTS:-- WHAT REPUBLICANS TOLD US YESTERDAY: If Trump left it all on the field, as his aides said, and failed, how is this not his fault? … The GOP wants to know what Trump will do differently in coming legislative brawls … Will Trump better learn the policy? Will he help sell his ideas?-- THE FREEDOM CAUCUS PROBLEM WAS ACUTE, BUT NOT THE WHOLE STORY. VP Mike Pence went to meet with the conservative caucus Friday in a last-ditch effort to try to convince them to support the bill, saying he would be in the HFC if he were in the House. But he couldn’t flip them. The group sent White House aides their whip list shortly after the visit, and it showed that the majority of the 30-something member group was opposed to the legislation. While they were critical in stopping the health care bill, their power will increase if they can actually push a piece of legislation across the finish line.-- NO ONE WAS LOOKING FOR DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT. Blaming Democrats for not supporting this bill does not make sense. The GOP whip team, charged with rounding up votes for legislation, never spoke to Democrats in a serious way about the bill. Plus, they used reconciliation to move the AHCA -- a legislative mechanism designed to pass with the support of just one party. (h/t Bloomberg BNA’s Jonathan Nicholson)-- Moveon.org’s Sara Kenigsberg (@skenigsberg): “Leader Nancy Pelosi @NancyPelosi just took off her heels and did a victory jump outside the U.S. Capitol @MoveOn” The video http://bit.ly/2nn2iMp-- TAX REFORM IS NOT EASIER THAN HEALTH CARE! It might be simpler for the New York, Wall Street-centric Trump administration to understand, because many of them have spent time in finance. But, in Washington, it’s actually harder. First of all, Congress has hardly started the tax reform process. There is deep disagreement among Republicans on the Hill, and between the Hill and the administration. For example, the House -- particularly Speaker Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady -- are hell bent on a border-adjustment tax to help pay for lower rates. Figures in the Trump administration staunchly disagree.There’s absolutely no consensus plan as of now. And the lobbyists have hardly started pounding the pavement. But when they do, there will be millions in advocacy from every business interest in the United States. In fact, because of arcane rules, Republicans don’t even know how they’ll move the legislation. We’re not saying it won’t get done. But it’s not the walk in the park that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants you to think it is.-- A WORD FROM THE HILL: The Trump administration is chattering about taking the policy lead on tax reform -- coming up with a plan, and telling Congress to pass it. According to the aides and lawmakers we’ve spoken to, that would be a mistake. Congress doesn’t take orders well.-- COMING ATTRACTIONS: Congress has 36 days until the federal government shuts down. The debt ceiling needs to be raised by the fall.THE COUNTDOWN -- 54 LEGISLATIVE DAYS until the Trump administration says tax reform will pass both chambers and be signed into law.HOW THE WSJ SEES IT -- “The ObamaCare Republicans: The GOP right blows up its best chance to reform government”: “House Republicans pulled their health-care bill shortly before a vote on Friday, and for once the media dirge is right about a GOP defeat. This is a major blow to the Trump Presidency, the GOP majority in Congress, and especially to the cause of reforming and limiting government. The damage is all the more acute because it was self-inflicted. President Trump was right to say on Friday that Democrats provided no help, but Democrats were never going to vote to repeal President Obama’s most important legislation. And that’s no excuse. Republicans have campaigned for more than seven years on repealing and replacing ObamaCare, and they finally have a President ready to sign it. In the clutch they choked.” http://on.wsj.com/2nhspD8WHAT TRUMP IS THINKING -- “‘Hello, Bob’: President Trump called my cellphone to say that the health-care bill was dead,” by WaPo’s Bob Costa: “Before I could ask a question, Trump plunged into his explanation of the politics of deciding to call off a vote on a bill he had been touting. The Democrats, he said, were to blame. ‘We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,’ Trump said. Trump said he would not put the bill on the floor in the coming weeks. He is willing to wait and watch the current law continue and, in his view, encounter problems. And he believes that Democrats will eventually want to work with him on some kind of legislative fix to Obamacare, although he did not say when that would be.” http://wapo.st/2nPR04FFLASHBACK – STEPHEN MILLER on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Feb. 12: “I think to say that we’re in control would be a substantial understatement. The President of the United States has accomplished more in just a few weeks than many Presidents do in an entire administration.” Video http://bit.ly/2nmTQNxRYAN’S WORLD -- “Ryan wounded by health care fiasco,” by John Bresnahan and Rachael Bade: “The painful public collapse Friday of Paul Ryan’s biggest endeavor as House speaker - legislation to unwind the Democratic health care law he and his party spent years castigating as a disaster - dealt a serious blow to the Wisconsin Republican. But as embarrassing a setback as this was - Obamacare is here to stay ‘for the foreseeable future,’ Ryan conceded - he isn't going anywhere.“No one is prepared to challenge Ryan for his job, said GOP lawmakers from across the Republican Conference. While some right-wing media and outside groups are agitating to replace the speaker, and his antagonists on the White House staff needle him anonymously in the press, there is no way he will be ousted. President Donald Trump hasn’t turned on him, either - at least not yet. And Ryan remains popular with his rank-and-file members, who genuinely like him. Critically, Ryan is not a liability for them back home, the ultimate litmus test for any congressional leader.” http://politi.co/2nyLnaaWAPO'S PAUL KANE -- "A new dynamic may be emerging in the House: A right and left flank within the GOP willing to buck leadership" http://wapo.st/2ogUdql -- It’s important to note: Can you imagine if this happened when Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) were in office? The knives would have been out. It’s pretty stunning that after such a massive failure there isn’t a single call for him to step down.WHERE DID THEY GO? -- “White House complains pro-Trump group MIA on health bill,” by Shane Goldmacher: “Amid the biggest policy showdown of Donald Trump’s presidency, top White House aides are perplexed that an outside group created to boost him at such critical junctions was missing in action. The pro-Trump nonprofit, America First Policies, has been gripped by its own internal headaches as two of the six announced members of its leadership team have left in recent days, according to two officials involved with the group ... With the health care law hanging in the balance, there were no TV ads, no brushbacks of wayward GOP lawmakers and no pointed reminders in key districts that every Republican nationwide ran on a platform or repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s namesake health care law.” http://politi.co/2n4ee3e -- "GOP wonders: Can it get anything done?" by Isaac Dovere. http://politi.co/2ogFWKe D’OH! -- “Basketball Fans Treated To Ads Congratulating Republicans For Repealing Obamacare,” by Deadspin’s Timothy Burke: “Basketball fans [on Friday night] in several Republican-adjacent TV markets [enjoyed] a series of ads, prematurely bought by the American Action Network PAC, inviting viewers to call their representatives to thank them for repealing Obamacare [on Friday]—something that did not happen. ... An ad praising Virginia’s Barbara Comstock ... ran during the Wizards-Nets game … [A]ds for Fresno’s David Valadao and Des Moines’s David Young ... ran on CBS stations before March Madness coverage.” With videos of the ads http://bit.ly/2ogBrznSCOOP -- “Ex-CIA Director: Mike Flynn and Turkish Officials Discussed Removal of Erdogan Foe From U.S.,” by WSJ’s James V. Grimaldi, Dion Nissenbaum and Margaret Coker: “Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, while serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign, met with top Turkish government ministers and discussed removing a Muslim cleric from the U.S. and taking him to Turkey, according to former [CIA] Director James Woolsey, who attended, and others who were briefed on the meeting. The discussion late last summer involved ideas about how to get Fethullah Gulen, a cleric whom Turkey has accused of orchestrating last summer’s failed military coup, to Turkey without going through the U.S. extradition legal process ... Mr. Woolsey told The Wall Street Journal he arrived at the meeting in New York on Sept. 19 in the middle of the discussion and found the topic startling and the actions being discussed possibly illegal.” http://on.wsj.com/2nPPxv4SPORTS BLINK -- “Wizards rout Nets, give their starters a break -- and clinch playoff spot,” by WaPo’s Ava Wallace: http://wapo.st/2nmZwXGHAPPY 60TH! -- “EU leaders renew fraying Union’s vows on 60th anniversary,” by Reuters’ Alastair Macdonald and Jan Strupczewski in Rome: “Europeans must contain their squabbling and carping about the EU if the Union is to survive, leaders warned on Saturday as they marked the 60th anniversary of its founding in Rome by signing a formal declaration of unity. Four days before Prime Minister Theresa May, absent from the ceremony in the Italian capital, delivers an unprecedented blow to the bloc's growth by filing Britain's formal exit papers, her fellow leaders hailed 60 years of peace and prosperity and pledged to deepen a unity frayed by regional and global crises.“But days of wrangling about the wording of a 1,000-word Rome Declaration, May’s impending Brexit confirmation and tens of thousands of protesters gathering beyond the tight police cordon around the Campidoglio palace offered a more sober reminder of the challenges of holding the 27 nations to a common course.” http://reut.rs/2n4lpZjBUSINESS BURST -- “Charter’s $25B spending pledge to Trump not so new, analysts say,” by Margaret Harding McGill: “President Donald Trump and the Charter Communications CEO Friday touted a $25 billion investment plan and re-upped a 20,000 jobs pledge, but analysts who track the company said the spending commitment isn’t any fresher than the jobs promise the company had made last year. Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, who along with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, met with Trump in the Oval Office on Friday, said his company will spend $25 billion on broadband infrastructure and technology in the next four years. ... Charter originally made the pledge to hire 20,000 workers in connection with its $67 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016.” For pros http://politico.pro/2nTI2DWFOR YOUR RADAR -- “Saudi embassy confirms UK attacker had been in Saudi Arabia,” by AP’s Gregory Katz in London: “The man who killed four people outside Britain’s Parliament was in Saudi Arabia three times and taught English there, the Persian Gulf country’s embassy said. Khalid Masood taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009, a Saudi Embassy statement released late Friday said. Masood had a work visa during those times, and then he returned for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent, the embassy said. Saudi security services didn’t track him and he didn’t have a criminal record there. Before taking the name Masood, he was known as Adrian Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had been convicted at least twice for violent crimes.” http://apne.ws/2ogHyE0MICHAEL ANTON PROFILE -- ROSIE GRAY in The Atlantic, “The Populist Nationalist on Trump’s National Security Council”: “‘I’m not trying to disparage Ben Rhodes but I always viewed Ben Rhodes as more operational,’ [Steve] Bannon said. In his view, the Obama administration had ‘operationalized the NSC.’ ‘What President Trump and General McMaster have done is go in the opposite direction, getting the NSC back to its proper role and function,’ Bannon said. Anton has a ‘very precise understanding of the processes of communications,’ Bannon said, remarking that it was rare in Washington or New York to have a ‘comms person who is also a deep intellect.’” http://theatln.tc/2nmWdQh THE FIRST FAMILY -- “Ivanka Trump’s Secret Service detail roiling her D.C. neighbors,” by WaPo’s Paul Schwartzman and Peter Jamison: “With their long history of hosting Washington dignitaries, Kalorama residents were largely unfazed when they learned that the Trump-Kushner clan, as well as former president Barack Obama and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were moving to the neighborhood after President Trump’s election. The neighbors are willing to put up with the Secret Service blockade on both ends of Belmont Road NW, the nearby street where Obama lives. He’s a former president, after all. And they appreciate that the Secret Service placed a few relatively unobtrusive orange cones outside Tillerson’s house on 24th Street NW.”“But the security surrounding the six-bedroom house Trump and Kushner rent? ‘Are you kidding me?’ asked Marti Robinson, a trial attorney who lives across the street. ‘This is the adult child of the president. Sometimes there are 10 cars out here.’” http://wapo.st/2nyYvfyWEST COAST WATCH -- “California Upholds Auto Emissions Standards, Setting Up Face-Off With Trump,” by NYT’s Hiroko Tabuchi: “California’s clean-air agency voted on Friday to push ahead with stricter emissions standards for cars and trucks, setting up a potential legal battle with the Trump administration over the state’s plan to reduce planet-warming gases. The vote, by the California Air Resources Board, is the boldest indication yet of California’s plan to stand up to President Trump’s agenda. Leading politicians in the state, from the governor down to many mayors, have promised to lead the resistance to Mr. Trump’s policies. Mr. Trump, backing industry over environmental concerns, said easing emissions rules would help stimulate auto manufacturing. He vowed last week to loosen the regulations. Automakers are aggressively pursuing those changes after years of supporting stricter standards.” http://nyti.ms/2nPX2lN-- “They’re so scared.’ Trump brings heartache, fear in L.A.’s ‘Ellis Island’,” by L.A. Times’ Ruben Vives: “Past the looming maze of freeway interchanges on the west side of Cesar Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights sits Biky’s Market, a light blue building with a dusty green awning. On the days that San Antonio de Padua Church across the street is closed, locals come here to confide their troubles to store owner Sue Kim. ... These days, customers seem to be talking about one more thing: President Trump. As the Kims see it, Trump and his promised immigration crackdown have altered the mood in the neighborhood they serve. … ‘They’re so scared, I think they’re hiding,’ she said.” http://lat.ms/2nn0Iu2MATCH MADE ON TWITTER? -- “Sen. Cory Booker wants to take Mindy Kaling on a date,” by PageSix’s Yaron Stenbuch: http://pge.sx/2ogjAZlMEDIAWATCH -- “Russia’s state news service applies for White House pass,”by Hadas Gold: “The Russian state-owned news website Sputnik has applied for a White House hard pass and is seeking membership in the White House Foreign Press Group in order to become a part of pool rotations. Sputnik, which Foreign Policy magazine described as the ‘BuzzFeed of propaganda,’ would be part of a rotating group of roughly 22 overseas outlets following President Donald Trump in his everyday interactions along with pool reporters from American print, TV, and radio outlets.” http://politi.co/2nTDuNLPLAYBOOK INBOX -- The RNC on Friday morning sent out an email with the subject line “7:00 – 7:30 AM Positive Chyrons” to folks on its war room list. See the email http://politi.co/2nn7yQgCLICKER – “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker -- 15 keepers http://politi.co/2nPKPxoGREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman, filing from New Orleans:--“The Strange, Spectacular Con of Bobby Charles Thompson,” by Daniel Fromson in Washingtonian: “Donors all over America opened their wallets for his United States Navy Veterans Association. Politicians all over Washington posed for grip-and-grins with him. But not only was he not a legitimate fundraiser for military families—he wasn’t even Bobby Charles Thompson. A look inside the hunt to catch one of the country’s biggest con men.” http://bit.ly/2mYUOg3 (h/t Longform.org)--“In defence of hierarchy,” by Stephen C. Angle in Aeon Magazine: “Hierarchy can be understood as a signal as to when deference – deferring to others – is expected. Good hierarchies signal the right kinds of deference, oppressive hierarchies demand the wrong ones.” http://bit.ly/2mYCC6g (h/t TheBrowser.com)--“‘Bro, I’m Going Rogue,’” by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Zeke Faux: “The Wall Street informant who double-crossed the FBI.” http://bloom.bg/2nbM6Mh--“The Academic Home of Trumpism,” by Jon Baskin in the Chronicle of Higher Ed: “Trump’s disdain for expertise and convention, so disturbing to both liberal and conservative elites, is what is most promising about him to the Claremonsters.” http://bit.ly/2nbfEcZ (h/t ALDaily.com)--“Will Roger Federer Ever Be Done?” by Rosecrans Baldwin in GQ: “Roger Federer was supposed to be finished. Or at least exiting gracefully, getting on with his transition to post-tennis things. But then, in January, after five years without a Grand Slam and a season sidelined by injury, he went ahead and won again. Not as the unflappable perfectionist but, for the first time, as a rangy underdog. In the immediate afterglow of the Australian Open, Federer brought GQ to his mountaintop home in Switzerland, where we learned about his life off the court and just how much longer he feels he can pull off the impossible.” http://bit.ly/2nMXp0y (h/t Longreads.com)--“New York Spends $1.2 Billion a Year on Homelessness,” by DW Gibson in New York Magazine: “And yet the problem is only getting worse.” http://nym.ag/2nTpROC--“Why Does Mount Rushmore Exist?” by Sam Anderson in the NYT Magazine: “This gargantuan shrine to democracy has never felt so surreal.” http://nyti.ms/2mUrsPg--“Is it too late to save Hong Kong from Beijing’s authoritarian grasp?” by Howard W French in The Guardian: “When Britain handed over control to China in 1997, Hong Kong was a beacon of freewheeling prosperity – but in recent years Beijing’s grip has tightened. Is there any hope for the city’s radical pro-democracy movement?” http://bit.ly/2mwgALT (h/t Longform.org)--“The Man in the Rockefeller Suit,” by Mark Seal in the Jan. 2009 Vanity Fair: “By snatching his seven-year-old daughter from her mother’s custody, after a bitter divorce, the man calling himself Clark Rockefeller blew the lid off a lifelong con game which had culminated with his posing as a scion of the famous dynasty. The 47-year-old impostor charmed his way into exclusive communities, clubs, and financial institutions—marrying a Harvard M.B.A.; working at Kidder, Peabody; and showing off an extraordinary art collection—until his arrest brought him face-to-face with his past and with questions regarding skeletal remains dug up in a California backyard.” http://bit.ly/2mUGep7--“How Serena Williams Became The G.O.A.T.,” by Elena Bergeron in The Fader: “One of the greatest athletes of all time took a path to success that only she could devise.” http://bit.ly/2o9pawJSPOTTED with courtside seats at the Wizards game last night: Mike Sommers, Speaker John Boehner’s former chief of staff ... David Petraeus yesterday in the lobby of the Cosmos Club ... Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at Hawk n’ Dove on Friday evening … Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) sitting yesterday in the Delta Sky Lounge in AtlantaOUT AND ABOUT -- Colleagues and friends toasted Robert Yoon, who is leaving his post as director of political research at CNN after 17 years. He’ll become a contributing reporter and analyst with Inside Elections. SPOTTED at Dana Bash’s home Friday evening for dinner and cocktails: Judy Woodruff, Sam Feist, Poppy MacDonald, Steve Chaggaris, Bernard Shaw, and Lindsay and Henry Ellenbogen.TRANSITIONS -- SAAT ALETY starts on Monday as banking legislative assistant to Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). He was a legislative assistant and communications director for Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) … Brett Doyle is joining the Republican Policy Committee as policy analyst for energy, the environment and agriculture starting April 10. He was an LA for Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). … NPR has hired Geoff Bennett to be a congressional reporter. He previously was a Hill reporter for NY1.BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Wheat Growers Association (h/t Lia Biondo)BIRTHDAYS: Michael Ortiz is 34 -- he has been decompressing and finally spending time with his daughter Sofia and wife Megan since leaving the Obama Admin. He most recently served as deputy counterterrorism coordinator for countering violent extremism at State Dept. ... Gloria Steinem is 83 ... Tim Phillips ... Lauren Aronson, an Obama admin alum and principal at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas ... Daniella Gibbs Leger, Cavalier/NY Giants fan for life, CAP media maven, and Obama WH alum ... Nick Kalman, ace Fox News producer (fresh off the Tillerson trip to Asia), proud father to dog Barkley, and Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserves – he’s spending his birthday on Navy drill duty and also celebrating Greek Independence Day (h/ts James Rosen, Arlette Saenz and Dan Knight) ... former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) is 59 ... Meredith Shiner, VP at Resolute Consulting in Chicago and a Yahoo, Roll Call and Politico alum … Jessica Emond and Emily Schillinger, who met working for Vice President Cheney; Emily is now comms. director for House Ways and Means and Jessica is in executive comms at IBM’s Watson Health ... Christopher Hale, a contributor for TIME who helped run Catholic outreach for President Obama and is now executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, is 28 ... Aaron David Miller, VP for new initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson Center since 2006 after 24 years at State (1978-2003), is 68 ... Naftali Bennett, Israeli special forces soldier turned software entrepreneur turned political leader, leader of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party and minister of education, is 45 (h/ts Jewish Insider) ... Politico’s Arthur Allen ... Steven Sloan, editorial director for CNN Politics and a Politico alum ... Chad Bolduc, COS for gov’t relations at UC California and an Obama WH alum ... BBC alum Alissa Rooney, director of media and PR at Oxfam America ...... Andrew Revkin ... Peter Friedman of Cincinnati, Ohio (h/t brother Andrew) ... Carlos Mark Vera, a Victorville native and self-described “chignon” is 23 and will likely spend his weekend working on Pay Our Interns, the organization he founded last year (h/t Nihal Krishan) ... Patrick Bailey, chief counsel for gov’t affairs at Senate HSGAC ... Grant Dubler, an LA for Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), is 27 (h/t Helen Kalla) ... Anna Brower, comms. director for NYC Public Advocate Tish James, is 29 ... Dawn Ennis of The Advocate ... Greece turns 196 on its Independence Day ... Kyla Peyton-Buzi … Nelson Reyneri … Danielle Engel … Kristen Atwood … Kate Mente ... James Gelfand … Laura Rusu, policy and campaigns media manager at Oxfam America ... Thom Loverro ... Marinka Markovich ... Gloria Pan of MomsRising.org ... Anthony Garrett ... Candice Hunter ... Boston Globe politics editor Felice Belman ... Lane Hudson ... Pete Van Vleet, senior digital video content manager at PBS and an AP and CNN alum ... Lauryl Dodson Jackson ... Andrew Okuyiga, a professional staffer for House T&I … Stina Skewes-Cox … Nick Kimball … Kyle Watkins ... Chas Danner, weekend editor at New York Magazine and a Dish/Andrew Sullivan alum ... Marge Sutinen ... Traci Siegel ... Mike Monroe ... Joseph Zagnoli Gulans (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) ... Sarah Eyman, LC for Sen. Blumenthal ... Annie McDonald of Rep. Swalwell’s office ... Doug Bellis ... Kristin Nicholson ... movie reviewer Gene Shalit is 91 ... Aretha Franklin is 75 ... Elton John is 7-0 ... Sarah Jessica Parker is 52 ... Danica Patrick is 35 (h/ts AP)THE SHOWS, by @MattMackowiak, filing from Austin:--NBC’s “Meet the Press”: OMB Director Mick Mulvaney … Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) … Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) … California Gov. Jerry Brown (taped). Panel: Tom Brokaw, Hugh Hewitt, Eliana Johnson and Joy Reid--“Fox News Sunday”: Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi … White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus … Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Panel: Bill Kristol, Susan Page, Charles Lane and Newt Gingrich … “Power Player of the Week” with James Webb Space Telescope deputy project manager John Durning--CBS’s “Face the Nation”: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) ... Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) … Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) … George Schultz. Panel: Ron Brownstein, Juliet Eilperin, Jamelle Bouie and Ben Domenech--CNN’s “State of the Union”: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) … Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Panel: Bakari Sellers, Debbie Dingell, Rick Santorum and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) (guest anchor: CNN’s Dana Bash)--ABC’s “This Week”: Guests to be announced--Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures”: House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) … Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) … Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) … Michael Mukasey. Panel: Ed Rollins, Jessica Tarlov and Rich Lowry--CNN’s “Inside Politics” with John King: Panel: Jennifer Jacobs, Jeff Zeleny, Margaret Talev and Manu Raju--CNN’s “Reliable Sources”: Panel: Carl Bernstein, Dylan Byers, Orange County Register columnist John Phillips and former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett … Nancy Gibbs … CNN media critic Brian Lowry--Fox News’ “MediaBuzz”: Erin McPike … Mollie Hemingway … Joe Trippi … Corey Lewandowski … Amy Holmes … Julie Roginsky … Marisa Guthrie--Univision’s “Al Punto”: Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló … “Colectivo Solecito” co-founder Lucy Díaz … Oaxaca ombudsman Arturo De Jesús Peimbert Calvo … OAS general secretary Luis Almagro … Richard Haass … singer Luis Coronel--C-SPAN: “The Communicators”: The White House’s Matt Lira and Cybereason CEO & co-founder Lior Div … “Newsmakers” : Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), questioned by Military Times’ Leo McShane and CQ Roll Call’s John Donnelly (live) … “Q&A”: Author and Hoover Institution senior fellow Thomas Sowell--Washington Times’ “Mack on Politics” weekly politics podcast with Matt Mackowiak (download on iTunes or listen at http://bit.ly/2mGabdq): James O’Keefe
Russia suggests that an international coalition should be set up for demining operations in Syria, Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Yevgeny Zagainov said at a meeting of the UN Security Council. "Syria is the only place in the world where the need for demining is so strong," he said following the adoption of a resolution for the protection of heritage. According to the Russian diplomat, the legendary city of Palmyra has become a symbol of the hard times that the Syrian people have been going through. "The jewel of the human civilization was first seized by terrorists but then liberated again. Our duty is to help restore this historic site for the sake of Syrians and the whole world," Zagainov stressed. He added that Palmyra, turned "into a place of executions and crimes" by militants, "is full of mines and unexploded shells" which "prevents experts from assessing the scale of destruction and "restoring what can be restored." "Russian de-miners have already started to solve this issue but if an international coalition is set up, it could be really helpful. We call on all our counterparts who would like to help preserve this historic heritage to leave aside all contradictions and do whatever they can to contribute to the common cause that particularly requires significant funding," the Russian deputy permanent representative said. On March 25, the United Nations Security Council adopted a historic resolution on the protection of heritage that aims at preventing the destruction and plunder of historic and archaeological sites as well as of objects of cultural and religious value. During the discussion, the Russian delegation had to respond to a statement made by Ukrainian Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Yelchenko in which he accused the militia active in the country’s eastern part of destroying and looting cultural heritage. He particularly alleged that it was "the result of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military interference in Donbass." Russia’s deputy permanent representative, in turn, said that Kiev took advantage of any discussion just "to carry on with its information and propaganda campaign against Russia." "It is regrettable but we will not comment on the inappropriate statements made here," he added. Source: TASS
Univocally condemning unlawful destruction and pillaging of cultural heritage such as religious sites and artefacts, the United Nations Security Council today adopted an historic resolution that is expected to strengthen protections for such heritage during armed conflicts where they are most vulnerable.
US Ambassador to USSR: “The Whole Brou-Ha-Ha Over Contacts with Russian Diplomats Has Taken On All The Earmarks of a Witch Hunt"
By Jack Matlock, the 4-year U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991, at the time that the USSR fell. Before that, Matlock served as the Director of Soviet Affairs in the State Department, the U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, and the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European and Soviet Affairs on the National Security Council Staff. Originally posted at JackMatlock.com. Posted with permission of the author. Click here to see who Matlock is and what he's said in the past about U.S.-Russia relations. Our press seems to be in a feeding frenzy regarding contacts that President Trump’s supporters had with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and with other Russian diplomats. The assumption seems to be that there was something sinister about these contacts, just because they were with Russian diplomats. As one who spent a 35-year diplomatic career working to open up the Soviet Union and to make communication between our diplomats and ordinary citizens a normal practice, I find the attitude of much of our political establishment and of some of our once respected media outlets quite incomprehensible. What in the world is wrong with consulting a foreign embassy about ways to improve relations? Anyone who aspires to advise an American president should do just that. Yesterday I received four rather curious questions from Mariana Rambaldi of Univision Digital. I reproduce below the questions and the answers I have given. Question 1: Seeing the case of Michael Flynn, that has to resign after it emerged that he spoke with the Russian ambassador about sanctions against Russia before Trump took office, and now Jeff Sessions is in a similar situation. Why is so toxic to talk with Sergey Kislyak? Answer: Ambassador Kislyak is a distinguished and very able diplomat. Anyone interested in improving relations with Russia and avoiding another nuclear arms race—which is a vital interest of the United States—should discuss current issues with him and members of his staff. To consider him “toxic” is ridiculous. I understand that Michael Flynn resigned because he failed to inform the vice president of the full content of his conversation. I have no idea why that happened, but see nothing wrong with his contact with Ambassador Kislyak so long as it was authorized by the president-elect. Certainly, Ambassador Kislyak did nothing wrong. Question 2: According to your experience, are Russians ambassadors under the sight of the Russian intelligence or they work together? Answer: This is a strange question. Intelligence operations are normal at most embassies in the world. In the case of the United States, ambassadors must be informed of intelligence operations within the countries to which they are accredited and can veto operations that they consider unwise or too risky, or contrary to policy. In the Soviet Union, during the Cold War, Soviet ambassadors did not have direct control over intelligence operations. Those operations were controlled directly from Moscow. I do not know what Russian Federation procedures are today. Nevertheless, whether controlled by the ambassador or not, all members of an embassy or consulate work for their host government. During the Cold War, at least, we sometimes used Soviet intelligence officers to get messages direct to the Soviet leadership. For example, during the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy used a “channel” through the KGB resident in Washington to work out the understanding under which Soviet nuclear missiles were withdrawn from Cuba. Question 3. How common (and ethic) is that a person related with a presidential campaign in the US has contact with the Russian embassy? Answer: Why are you singling out the Russian embassy? If you want to understand the policy of another country, you need to consult that country’s representatives. It is quite common for foreign diplomats to cultivate candidates and their staffs. That is part of their job. If Americans plan to advise the president on policy issues, they would be wise to maintain contact with the foreign embassy in question to understand that country’s attitude toward the issues involved. Certainly, both Democrats and Republicans would contact Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin during the Cold War and discuss the issues with him. As the person in charge of our embassy in Moscow during several political campaigns, I would often set up meetings of candidates and their staffs with Soviet officials. Such contacts are certainly ethical so long as they do not involve disclosure of classified information or attempts to negotiate specific issues. In fact, I would say that any person who presumes to advise an incoming president on vital policy issues needs to understand the approach of the country in question and therefore is remiss if he or she does not consult with the embassy in question. Question 4: In a few words, What’s your point of view about Sessions-Kislyak case? Is possible that Sessions finally resigns? Answer: I don’t know whether Attorney General Sessions will resign or not. It would seem that his recusal from any investigation on the subject would be adequate. He would not have been my candidate for attorney general and if I had been in the Senate I most likely would not have voted in favor of his confirmation. Nevertheless, I have no problem with the fact that he occasionally exchanged words with Ambassador Kislyak. In fact, I believe it is wrong to assume that such conversations are somehow suspect. When I was ambassador to the USSR and Gorbachev finally allowed competitive elections, we in the U.S. embassy talked to everyone. I made a special point to keep personal relations with Boris Yeltsin when he in effect led the opposition. That was not to help get him elected (we favored Gorbachev), but to understand his tactics and policies and to make sure he understood ours. The whole brou-ha-ha over contacts with Russian diplomats has taken on all the earmarks of a witch hunt. President Trump is right to make that charge. If there was any violation of U.S. law by any of his supporters—for example disclosure of classified information to unauthorized persons—then the Department of Justice should seek an indictment and if they obtain one, prosecute the case. Until then, there should be no public accusations. Also, I have been taught that in a democracy with the rule of law, the accused are entitled to a presumption of innocence until convicted. But we have leaks that imply that any conversation with a Russian embassy official is suspect. That is the attitude of a police state, and leaking such allegations violates every normal rule regarding FBI investigations. President Trump is right to be upset, though it is not helpful for him to lash out at the media in general. Finding a way to improve relations with Russia is in the vital interest of the United States. Nuclear weapons constitute an existential threat to our nation, and indeed to humanity. We are on the brink of another nuclear arms race which would be not only dangerous in itself, but would make cooperation with Russia on many other important issues virtually impossible. Those who are trying to find a way to improve relations with Russia should be praised, not scapegoated.
TNI Staff Security, The National Interest, a print and online magazine focusing on international affairs, foreign policy, national security, domestic politics and more is searching for a national security reporter to join our online editorial team. This position is based in Washington, D.C. This exciting position entails writing daily news articles concentrating on the State Department and National Security Council from a realist and restraint-oriented perspective in foreign affairs. This position requires the following skills: • Reporting and writing on defense and national security issues on a daily basis. • Covering key players in the foreign policy establishment. A proven record and extensive contacts are a must. • Ability to break news and cover emerging events. • Experience in journalism (2 years or more) or online writing/blogging, a background in defense and national-security writing and familiarity with tools used in web production will particularly stand out on an application. • Successful candidates will also have the ability to write clearly, intelligently, and thoughtfully keeping in mind short deadlines and fast turnaround times. • A bachelor’s degree in one of the following disciplines: political science, history, and/or international affairs. A master’s degree in one of the above is highly desirable. All applications must submit the following: cover letter, résumé/CV, and a writing sample of 500 words or more to: [email protected] Read full article
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Israel has ignored a demand by the United Nations Security Council to halt settlement building and some Palestinian groups are continuing to incite violence against Jews, U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the 15-member body on Friday.
Michael Anton actively courts controversy with his extreme views. But how much influence does he have in the White House?
Senior-level United States and Israeli delegations concluded today four days of intensive discussions, with a particular focus on concrete, near-term measures to improve the overall climate in order to advance the prospects for a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The United States delegation was led by Jason Greenblatt, President Donald J. Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, and included representatives of the National Security Council staff and the Department of State. The Israeli delegation was led by the Chief of Staff to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yoav Horowitz, and included Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and representatives of the Israeli National Security Council and office of the Prime Minister. The issues the two delegations discussed are exceptionally complicated, and the fact that both governments dedicated such senior delegations for nearly a full week of talks reflects the close cooperation between the two countries and the importance both assign to this vital task. A principal focus of the discussions was specific measures that could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential. The Israelis welcomed United States interest in continuing to play a facilitating role in advancing issues regarding electricity and water in ways that will benefit both Israel and the Palestinians and also move the Palestinians toward self-sustainability in these crucial areas. Following up on discussions Mr. Greenblatt had in Ramallah last week, the two sides agreed on the importance of implementing measures benefitting the people of Gaza, and in that regard, the delegations discussed the necessity of all parties to the 2014 Gaza Reconstruction Conference in Cairo fulfilling their pledges to bring humanitarian relief and economic development to Gaza in ways that benefit the population without further empowering Hamas or other terrorist organizations. The two delegations also discussed Israeli settlement construction, following up on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington and Mr. Greenblatt’s recent visit to Israel. The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement. The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration. The talks were serious and constructive, and they are ongoing.
DPRK’s latest ballistic missile and engine test raises risk of regional arms race – UN Security Council
The United Nations Security Council today strongly condemned the ballistic missile launch and a ballistic missile engine test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) this week in flagrant and provocative defiance of a number of Council resolutions expressly forbidding such activities.
Secretary-General António Guterres and members of the United Nations Security Council today extended condolences on behalf of the Organization to the Government and people of the United Kingdom for the loss of life and injuries suffered in yesterday’s terrorist attack in London.
‘IT’S ALL UP TO THE WHITE HOUSE NOW’ -- 'TRUMPCARE' already here -- ROGER STONE’s email defending himself -- DEMS weigh Gorsuch deal -- THE JUICE: LIZ ALLEN to GPG -- B'DAY: Ryan Grim
Listen to Playbook in 90 Seconds http://bit.ly/2nar2pG ... Subscribe on iTunes http://apple.co/2eX6Eay ... Visit the online home of Playbook http://politi.co/2f51JnfGood Thursday morning. THE REALITY -- ‘IT’S ALL UP TO THE WHITE HOUSE NOW’ -- The health-care bill is really down to a coin flip. The mood in the Capitol yesterday was tense -- not because people were worried about failure, but because the situation was so fluid it was difficult to get a real read on what was transpiring. Even the smartest and savviest vote counters had no idea whether they will be able to pass this bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. As of publishing time this morning, House Republicans planned to bring this bill to the floor Thursday no matter what the whip count looked like. We wouldn’t be surprised if the vote came after the market closed. (NOTE: Big thanks to John Bresnahan and the best-in-class POLITICO Hill team for keeping us honest and abreast of all twists and turns.)HERE’S THE DEAL. The conservative House Freedom Caucus -- which will meet with PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP this morning at 11:30 a.m. -- wants to not only eliminate coverage requirements for health insurers in the Obamacare bill (known as essential health benefits), but they also want to repeal the law’s Title One, which includes rules on coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ plan up to age 26. As of early this morning, the leadership and White House were cool to that proposal. -- HFC SPOKESMAN ALYSSA FARAH (@Alyssafarah) at 11:12 p.m.: “No decisions reached. Continuing to negotiate. The Freedom Caucus continues to have serious concerns with current AHCA text.” Rep. Mark Meadows' statement http://bit.ly/2naGNNq **SUBSCRIBE to Playbook: http://politi.co/2lQswbhTHE NUMBERS. The dramatic changes to this bill throw the whip count in serious flux. House Republican leaders have now lost the support of moderates like Reps. Chris Smith and Frank LoBiando of New Jersey, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and David Young of Iowa. Watch for other moderate Republicans who see this as an opportunity to ditch the bill without major political consequence. There are 237 House Republicans and 215 need to vote yes to pass this bill. They can lose 22 lawmakers.THE HYPOCRISY. Republicans are doing exactly what they accused Democrats of doing in 2010. They are rewriting this bill behind closed doors in the dead of night. They are using the powerful Rules Committee to give themselves remarkable authority to bring up and vote on any bill in the same day -- known, quite ominously, as “martial law.” THE STAKES ...-- THE FREEDOM CAUCUS. To call this a critical moment for the House Freedom Caucus -- the clutch of conservative members in the House -- would be like calling Michael Jordan a weekend men’s league warrior. If the Freedom Caucus succeeds in getting the changes it wants and doesn’t put up the votes for the bill, their future negotiating stance will be seriously diminished. Even if they get half of what they want -- just eliminating essential health benefits -- and don’t put up some votes, it will be problematic in Trump’s eyes. But if they succeed here, they have the keys to the castle. If they get the changes they want, and help push this bill across the finish line, their negotiating tactics -- forcing changes at the last minute -- will be completely validated.-- PAUL RYAN. The House speaker crafted the legislative sequencing of 2017 -- health care repeal first and tax reform second. People close to Ryan know a defeat here will be a critical blow for the Wisconsin Republican, but they say that he cares little about his long-term political standing in the House, so he’s willing to get down and dirty. But there’s no doubt that not passing this bill would sow distrust in the West Wing, and put in doubt the leadership’s ability to shepherd the rest of the GOP’s agenda. A victory here would be big for Ryan -- at least in the short term.-- DONALD TRUMP. The president ran on being able to handle these situations better than anyone else. He always said that it was him, and him alone, who could close these deals. Remember? ‘We don’t make good deals anymore … Obamacare is a disaster -- I’ll take care of it.’ OK, well we’ll see today whether that’s true. At this point, it’s Trump versus a group of more than two dozen conservative lawmakers who have spent years stifling John Boehner and Paul Ryan. The GOP leadership is calling Trump ‘the closer’ -- a subtle nod to their belief that it’s his job to get this thing through. A loss here would throw that -- and Trump’s entire legislative agenda -- into question.-- THE AGENDA. Republicans have talked about repealing Obamacare for nearly a decade. If they can’t get it done, how can we expect tax reform to get done? Forget the silly August deadline that the New York wing of Trump’s White House is peddling. If they can’t get health care done in the House, where the GOP enjoys a large majority, how can they rewrite the incredibly complex tax code?-- DEMOCRATS are holding strong against the bill. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can smell blood in the water. Expect to hear more about how Trumpcare will tax older Americans, provide less coverage and cost more. By the way, Pelosi dealt with similar dynamics in 2009 during Obamacare -- her liberals wanted a public health-insurance option. They promised to never vote for any bill without it. Over a few months, they systematically broke down.-- SOMETHING TO REMEMBER -- The last time Republicans owned something big on health care was in 2003 with President George W. Bush’s Medicare prescription drug bill. GOP leadership had to basically lock the doors and hold open the vote for hours to flip three or four holdouts. The political dynamics were far different back then. The GOP had a strong whip in Tom Delay, and they had goodies to dole out, like earmarks.-- THE REAL QUESTION. What is the Republican endgame here? They’ve made so many changes to the bill that nearly everyone concedes that, even if House Republicans pass it, it is basically dead on arrival in the Senate. It’s hard to remember a more consequential vote or issue where there wasn’t a long-term political strategy. Even if this somehow becomes law, it will almost certainly face issues in implementation. Republicans are coming up against the hard reality that voters want more health care for less cost, which is virtually impossible to deliver on.THE LATEST -- “White House shift to right on health care angers moderates,” by Kyle Cheney, Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan. http://politi.co/2nfw99Q … “Inside Trump’s last-ditch bid to avoid a health care disaster,” by Rachael Bade, John Bresnahan and Kyle Cheney http://politi.co/2mTG1mh --“Is Trumpcare already here?” by Politico Pulse author Dan Diamond: “No matter what happens to the Republicans’ troubled health bill in Congress, Trumpcare is here to stay. The Trump administration has already begun to transform the health insurance market, wielding executive power to rewrite coverage rules, slash Obamacare’s marketing budget and signal an all-out assault on his predecessor’s health care law. And Republicans have high expectations the administration will take additional measures to unwind Obamacare, such as targeting its contraception coverage requirement at the center of two recent religious liberty cases at the Supreme Court.” http://politi.co/2mXhxZR … Subscribe to Pulse http://politi.co/2mVjdWD -- THE PAUL STREET JOURNAL: “Keeping Our Promise to Repeal ObamaCare: Our bill guts the failing law and enacts conservative reform without pulling the rug out from under anyone,” by Speaker Paul Ryan in the Wall Street Journal. http://on.wsj.com/2nMdlQV WHAT DEMOCRATS ARE DOING -- The Democratic National Committee is launching robocalls to roughly 50 vulnerable Republican House districts this morning. The calls to constituents in those districts feature DNC Chair Tom Perez telling voters about the “disastrous bill and how it would affect people between the age of 50-65, urging them to contact Congress.”-- AMERICAN BRIDGE -- the outside Democratic group -- is releasing a digital ad targeting disaffected Trump voters (including people who voted for President Barack Obama but also voted for Trump) with an emphasis on congressional districts with vulnerable Republican incumbents. The ad http://bit.ly/2na5nhmWITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE … -- “Koch network pledges to defend Republicans who vote against GOP health bill,” by Kevin Robillard: http://politi.co/2o7xkWqTHE TRUTH BOMB -- RICH LOWRY in Politico, “The Health Care Albatross”: “Republicans should get used to it. Their agony on health care is just beginning. For the past seven years, the party benefited from its powerlessness, which usefully maximized its ability to criticize Obamacare and minimized its responsibility to do anything about it. Now, with unified control of government, the party will pay the piper. Nothing good will come of the Obamacare repeal-and-replace debate. If anything resembling the current bill passes and is signed into law, Republicans will spend years trying to fix it and live it down. If the bill fails, the rest of President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda may sink with it.” http://politi.co/2nFNf1v TRUMP’S THURSDAY -- In addition to his meeting with the Freedom Caucus, Trump will have lunch with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and billionaire investment manager Nelson Peltz. At 3:25 p.m., he’ll meet with truckers and CEOS.-- THE TRUCKING CEOS: Kevin W. Burch of Jet Express; James Donald Burg of James Burg Trucking; David Congdon of Old Dominion Freight Lines; Michael Ducker of FedEx Freight; William Fuller of US Xpress; Neal J. Kedzie of Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association; Richard McArdle of UPS Freight; Dennis Nash of The Kenan Advantage Group; Tonn N. Ostergard of Crete Carrier Corp.; John Smith of CRST; and Christopher T. Spear of the American Trucking Associations. TRUCKERS: Steven Fields. Ralph B. Garcia, David Green, Rhonda Hartman, William Lex, David Livingston, Donald Ray Logan, Derrick Whittle, Charlton Paul, Jr., Russel A. Simpson, Todd Allen Stine, Barney Earl Taylor, Jerry Langer.HMM -- “U.S. officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians,” by CNN’s Pamela Brown, Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz: “The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, U.S. officials told CNN. This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, according to one source. The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.” http://cnn.it/2ng62PZ -- “[Adam] Schiff: There is now ‘more than circumstantial evidence’ of Trump-Russia collusion,” by Madeline Conway: “‘I can tell you that the case is more than that,’ Schiff told Chuck Todd on MSNBC. ‘And I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now.’ When Todd followed up, asking if he had ‘seen direct evidence of collusion,’ Schiff would not say so directly, but insisted that he has seen some ‘evidence that is not circumstantial’ and is worth investigating.” http://politi.co/2mXmCl2 --SPEAKING OF WHICH -- PLAYBOOK INBOX -- “A personal note from Roger Stone”: “I am anxious to rebut allegations that I had any improper or nefarious contact with any agent of the Russia State based on facts, not misleading and salacious headlines. Claims of Russian influence or collusion in the Trump Campaign by the Intelligence Community are backed up by ZERO evidence. But now Rep. Adam Schiff, having slimed me in public session seems to be backing away from a confrontation. I demand the right to face my accusers. I will deconstruct their lies and spank them like children. Swallwell [sic], Speier all must be confronted with their lies and smear tactics. ... I’m ready to testify.” See Roger’s full email http://politi.co/2mXvBTn BULLETIN at 6 a.m.: “WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. Treasury agents obtained information about ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s offshore financial activities.” Story by Jack Gillum, Menelaos Hadjicostis and Eric Tucker http://apne.ws/2nMagA8 WORTH A READ -- TRUMP INTERVIEW WITH TIME’s MICHAEL SCHERER -- On accusing President Obama of wire tapping, Trump said: “I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right. I have articles saying that it happened.”--On his unsubstantiated claim that 3 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally, Trump said he would be proved right eventually, though he hinted that he no longer stood by all parts of that claim, saying, “When I say that, mostly they register wrong. In other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly, and/ or illegally. I’m forming a committee on it.”-- On the risk to his reputation caused by saying false things, Trump said: “Hey, look, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m President and you’re not. You know. Say hello to everybody, OK?” http://ti.me/2mXHt7Z … Time’s cover, “Is Truth Dead?” http://ti.me/2mTvpUe GORSUCH WATCH -- “Democrats weigh deal to let Gorsuch through,” by Burgess Everett: “A group of Senate Democrats is beginning to explore trying to extract concessions from Republicans in return for allowing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. The lawmakers worry that Gorsuch could be confirmed whether Democrats try to block him or not -- and Democrats will be left with nothing to show for it. That would be a bitter pill after the GOP blocked Merrick Garland for nearly a year. “The deal Democrats would be most likely to pursue, the sources said, would be to allow confirmation of Gorsuch in exchange for a commitment from Republicans not to kill the filibuster for a subsequent vacancy during President Donald Trump’s term. The next high court opening could alter the balance of the court, and some Democrats privately argue that fight will be far more consequential than the current one.” http://politi.co/2mT7RPsBUT, BUT, BUT -- “Democrats Seize on Disability Ruling to Bolster Their Case Against Gorsuch,” by WSJ’s Jess Bravin: http://on.wsj.com/2mTFosCTHE JUICE …-- FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: LIZ ALLEN, former White House deputy communications director and deputy assistant to President Obama, is joining Glover Park Group as a senior vice president in the firm’s strategic communications practice. Allen served in senior communications and leadership roles through all eight years of the Obama administration, including in the Office of the Vice President and the U.S. Department of State. -- MORNING JOE EXCLUSIVE: U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in the 7 a.m. hour this morning.THE ADMINISTRATION -- “Search for Secret Service Leader Intensifies as White House Security Is Tested,” by NYT’s Nick Fandos: “Aides to President Trump are narrowing a list of candidates to lead the Secret Service ... [T]op aides have been looking at candidates inside and outside the agency who can improve its morale and regain the credibility lost after a string of embarrassing lapses. They hope to name a new director in the coming weeks. ... Critics of the agency have seized on the most recent cases to amplify calls for the White House to recruit a leader from outside the Secret Service, which would be unprecedented in the famously hidebound agency’s modern history. They insisted that only someone untethered from the agency’s ways of thinking could institute the kind of reforms necessary to guide the organization.” http://nyti.ms/2o7UID3 TRUMP INC. -- “Trump’s early policy moves benefit the industries he knows best - his own,” by Darren Samuelsohn: “Donald Trump’s presidency has been good for business, with a soaring stock market, a freeze on new regulations and an Oval Office that appears to have an open door for CEOs. But Trump has been especially good news for the industries in which he has a personal interest: real estate, construction, entertainment, hospitality, gambling and, of course, golf. Since taking office in January, Trump has made moves -- from rolling back water quality permits to signaling big changes on overtime pay and internet betting -- that benefit the fields he knows best. And his former peers -- partners and competitors alike -- are finding familiar faces in Trump’s White House and Cabinet agencies, who have the power to make even more of their wish lists come true.” http://politi.co/2nFFicDLONDON ATTACK LATEST -- “Major raids conducted after London attack; 7 arrested,” by AP’s Frank Griffiths and Gregory Katz in London: “British police conducted major raids and arrested seven people in connection with the attack outside Parliament that left four dead, including the man who mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and fatally stabbed an officer, a senior police official said Thursday. Metropolitan Police counterterrorism chief Mark Rowley said that he believed the attacker acted alone and was ‘inspired by international terrorism.’” http://apne.ws/2mTzubb-- “Donald Trump Jr. Criticizes London Mayor After Deadly Attack,” by NYT’s Liam Stack: “It has become something of an online custom in the social media age to react to tragic news stories -- like Wednesday’s attack in London -- with well-meaning if sometimes rote messages like ‘thoughts and prayers.’ But that does not appear to be Donald Trump Jr.’s style. ‘You have to be kidding me?!’ Mr. Trump said Wednesday afternoon on Twitter ... Mr. Trump, the oldest son of President Trump, was calling attention to an article from September in The Independent, a British newspaper, that described Mr. Khan’s reaction to a bombing then in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Mr. Trump mischaracterized the London mayor’s remarks. Mr. Khan did not describe terrorism as ‘part of living in a big city,’ as if bombings and shootings were an inescapable fact of life. He said that terrorism preparedness, including providing sufficient support to the police, was ‘part and parcel of living in a great global city.’” http://nyti.ms/2nqrSk3 COMING ATTRACTIONS -- “Trump meets Black Caucus and vows action on drug prices,” by Elana Schor and Matt Nussbaum: “President Donald Trump had a ‘candid’ discussion with members of the Congressional Black Caucus Wednesday, lawmakers said, while also repeating his politically-challenging campaign promise to tackle high prescription drug prices. … ‘I think we’re going to do it in health care, or we’re going to do it separately, but we’re going to bid down drug prices, and we’re going to try to have the lowest prices anywhere in the world from really the highest,’ Trump told the lawmakers, according to a pool report.” http://politi.co/2nUyMMvHOT TAKE -- DANA MILBANK in WaPo, “Lincoln was a Republican, slavery is bad — and more discoveries by President Obvious”: “Seeking and winning the presidency has been a magical voyage of discovery for Donald Trump. Tuesday night, he divulged a most remarkable finding: Abraham Lincoln was -- are you sitting down for this? -- a Republican. ‘Most people don’t even know he was a Republican,’ Trump told a group of Republicans. ... He has repeatedly tried to educate the populace on this little-known fact. August 2016: ‘Most people don’t know this. The Republican Party is ... the party of Abraham Lincoln.’ September 2016: ‘A lot of people don’t realize that Abraham Lincoln, the great Abraham Lincoln, was a Republican.’ October 2016: ‘A lot of people don’t know that it’s the party of Abraham Lincoln.’” http://wapo.st/2naeZJ7WEST COAST WATCH -- “Many Californians unsure of Kamala Harris, poll says,” by California Playbook co-author David Siders in Sacramento: “California Sen. Kamala Harris remains unknown to many residents of her own state despite maintaining a high profile in Washington, while California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, has seen her job approval rating tick down, according to a new poll. Forty-six percent of Californians approve of the job Harris is doing, while 23 percent disapprove, according to a poll released late Wednesday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. But 30 percent of Californians – including 20 percent of Democrats – say they don’t know how to rate Harris’ performance, according to the poll, which is the PPIC’s first post-election measure of Harris’ job approval.” http://politi.co/2nfHxT5BUSINESS BURST -- “U.S. Preparing Cases Linking North Korea to Theft at N.Y. Fed,” by WSJ’s Aruna Viswanatha and Nicole Hong: “Federal prosecutors are building cases that would accuse North Korea of directing one of the biggest bank robberies of modern times, the theft of $81 million from Bangladesh’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last year ... The charges, if filed, would target alleged Chinese middlemen who prosecutors believe helped North Korea orchestrate the theft ... In the heist, cyberthieves used the SWIFT access codes of Bangladesh’s central bank in one February 2016 weekend to transfer $81 million from the bank’s account at the New York Fed to four bank accounts in the Philippines.” http://on.wsj.com/2mXgk50 DEEP DIVE -- “The New Detroit: The South’s manufacturing renaissance comes with a heavy price,” by Peter Waldman in Bloomberg Businessweek: “Alabama has been trying on the nickname ‘New Detroit.’ Its burgeoning auto parts industry employs 26,000 workers, who last year earned $1.3 billion in wages. ... Parts suppliers in the American South compete for low-margin orders against suppliers in Mexico and Asia. They promise delivery schedules they can’t possibly meet and face ruinous penalties if they fall short. Employees work ungodly hours, six or seven days a week, for months on end. Pay is low, turnover is high, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought, usually after someone is badly hurt. Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South. ... The files read like Upton Sinclair, or even Dickens.” http://buswk.co/SouthernAutoJobs ... The cover http://politi.co/2nqv53sMEDIAWATCH -- “Federal staffers panicked by conservative media attacks: A spate of stories in Breitbart and other outlets have singled out individual career employees, questioning their loyalty to Trump,” by Nahal Toosi and Andrew Restuccia: “The articles -- which have appeared in Breitbart News, the Conservative Review and other outlets -- have alarmed veteran officials in both parties as well as current executive branch staffers. They say the stories are adding to tensions between career staffers and political appointees as they begin to implement Trump’s agenda, and they worry that the stories could inspire Trump to try purging federal agencies of perceived enemies. The claims posted on the conservative sites include allegations of anti-Israel and pro-Iran bias against staffers at institutions such as the State Department and the National Security Council. Breitbart ... has even published lists of workers that the president should fire. Washington veterans say they can’t recall similar targeting of government employees, who are required to stay apolitical and generally shun the spotlight.” http://politi.co/2mvgwMy -- ANNIE KARNI will moderate a talk Sunday with former top Obama aide Alyssa Mastromonaco at Politics & Prose about life in the White House and her new book, “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House”. Audrey Gelman, co-founder of The Wing and a Clinton campaign alum, also is joining the conversation. http://bit.ly/2mvjSPNSPOTTED: Eric Trump yesterday walking in downtown Aspen across from Rag and Bone wearing a half-zipped sweater with a bunch of Secret Service, per our tipster … Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) having dinner Wednesday at Casa Luca. … Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) at Bistro Italiano on Capitol Hill eating pasta. … Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) having breakfast Tuesday with former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) -- the chairman of the MPAA -- at a back table in the Senate dining room. … Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in Kalorama … Eliot Spitzer arriving in D.C. at Union Station. OUT AND ABOUT -- ELLE magazine’s Robbie Myers played host Wednesday night to honor the magazine’s “Women in Washington Power List.” The dinner at Fiola Mare brought together a who’s who of Washington’s most powerful women. Magazine story http://bit.ly/2o7SnIl On the list: Sarah Chamberlain, Jacquelyn Days Serwer, Debra L. Lee, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Meighan Stone, Rhea Suh, Katy Tur, Judy Woodruff. Pic http://bit.ly/2nqvNxxSPOTTED: Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Heather Podesta, Juleanna Glover, Kimball Stroud, Missy Edwards, Peter Selfridge, Parita Shah Selfridge, Kathleen Biden, Jennifer Tapper, Kelley McCormick, Tammy Haddad, Melissa Moss, Susanna Quinn, Dana Bash, Kate Bennett, Emily Lenzer, Emily Heil, Marissa Mitrovich, Erin McPike, Nick Massella, Adrienne Elrod, Christine Delargy, Natalie Jones, Stephanie Green, Maggie Bullock, Jen Hing, and Leah Chernikoff. --AMAZON had a party for members of Congress who have Amazon jobs in their states or districts -- they call them the “home team.” The confab was in Longworth Wednesday night. SPOTTED: Reps. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas), Amazon’s Jay Carney, Brian Huseman, Blair Anderson, Steve Hartell, Ashleigh de la Torre, Allison Cullin, Ben Gielow, Kate Viar, Jena Gross (the pride of Easton, Connecticut), Jill Kerr and more.--Bush 43 Homeland Security alum Ed Cash held a party last night to celebrate his firm Frontier Security Strategies expanding to add a team of 25 people from the homeland security/public safety world. SPOTTED at the reception at the Sidecar at P.J Clarke’s: former Gov. Tom Ridge (pic with Ed: http://bit.ly/2nFUKFR), Clarine Riddle, Jim Williams, Tim Manning, Chris Geldart, Admiral Tom Atkin, Chad Sweet, James McCament, Robert Samaan, Jay Nelson, Rowdy Adams, Darrell Darnell, Jonathan Hoffman, Fred Schwien, Brian Cohen, Jim Staples, Josh Filler, Jan Lane, Kelli Kedis Ogborn, Ross Ashley, Don Kent, Lee Morris, Mercedes Legrand, Catie Horst, John and Abby Allen, Kristina Dorville, Matt Allen, Michael Petrucelli, Jim Ansberry, Luke Bellocchi, Brad Saull, Donald Tighe, Rich Cooper, Dennis Murphy, Hun Kim, Bill Lockhart, Andy Purdy, Eli Hammerman, Chris Armstrong, Dan Caine-- The MPAA hosted a reception and screening last night of Sony’s “Life,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds. Trailer http://bit.ly/2mTyYKa SPOTTED: Jeanne Meserve, Jeff Blount, Bob Mondello, Lyndsey Boerma, Nihal Krishan, Mike Memoli, Brenna Williams, Ruth Morris, Jared Parks, Michael Balmoris, Blake Androff, Kerry McNellis, Caitlin Legacki, Tim McCann, Sam Sokol, and Dennis Wharton, John Cochran -- The Washington Legal Clinic held its 30th annual home court basketball game fundraiser. Organized by students at Georgetown Law School, the event which typically pits lawmakers against a team of Georgetown Law faculty and staff had to rejigger its roster after all 10 members of Congress backed out with the health care debate going on. While Dean Treanor lead the Hoya’s Lawya’s to victory over the remains of the Hill’s Angels, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless was the big winner as they announced a Home Court fundraising record of over $1,036,000 raised for the night’s event. TRANSITIONS -- After three years and two tours with EMILY’s List, executive director JESSICA O’CONNELL is leaving the organization after its We Are EMILY National Conference and Gala in May. During her time at the group, EMILY’s List has grown from a community of 3 million to 5 million people. The group helped to quadruple the number of women of color in the U.S. Senate, elected 269 women at the state and local level and raised $90 million for pro-choice Democratic women during the 2016 cycle.– Mercury has announced six new partners to the PR firm’s leadership: Tracy Arnold, Paul Bauer, John Gallagher, Glenn Gritzner, John Lonergan and Duncan McFetridge. http://politi.co/2mX92OM SUNDAY SO FAR -- “Fox News Sunday”: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Panel: Bill Kristol, Susan Page, Newt Gingrich, Charles Lane.--NBC’s “Meet the Press”: California Gov. Jerry Brown.BIRTHWEEK (was Tuesday): Joi Ridley, deputy executive director and director of membership and marketing of the National Bar Association (h/t Clintandra Thompson)BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: HuffPost DC bureau chief Ryan Grim, the pride of Still Pond, Md., is 39 – how he’s celebrating: “I’ll be flying to Boston to moderate a panel at Harvard the next day on marijuana legalization, which is several outlandish dreams come true all at once” – read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2o7EHwM BIRTHDAYS: The Affordable Care Act is 7 – will it survive to see its 8th birthday? … Nita Chaudhary, co-founder and co-executive director of UltraViolet and a MoveOn and DNC alum ... Politico’s Brett Norman ... Michael Caputo ... Rep. Brian Babin (R-Tex.) is 69 ... Economist cartoonist Kevin Kallaugher ... Johnny DeStefano, assistant to the President and director of presidential personnel, former president of GOP Data Trust and NRCC alum (h/t Mike Shields) ... Suzanne Turner of turner4D ... Dawn Selak, DOE and Obama WH comms. alum … former Hill/ONE staffer Kim Hunter, now VP of comms at Aclima ... Debbi Mayster of DMM Communications ... Alec Gerlach … Derek Boyse, investment banking analyst at J.P. Morgan in Houston, is 23 – he and his family are celebrating in Texas this weekend (h/t siblings Fentress and Natalie) ... Maggie Gage, Leahy and Sen. Judiciary Cmte. alum, Georgetown adjunct faculty and head of political strategies at Credit Suisse (h/t Jon Haber) ... Pakistan turns 77 on its Republic Day ... Daniel Udell, co-founder of Wikitongues, which is building a public archive of every language as well as developing open source tools for language documentation ... Maria Garcia, researcher at FWD.us ... Adam Mowder, multiplatform editor at WashPost and a Politico alum ... Anila Alexander, product configuration analyst at Vitals and a Politico alum ... Natalie Rosen Marx ... Paul Neaville ... Sarah Foy (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) …... Ian Koski, North America comms director at ONE, is 37 ... Maya Lau, an LATimes reporter covering LA County Sheriff’s Dept. ... Caroline Kirkendoll ... Mike Franc, director of DC Programs and former policy director for Kevin McCarthy, is 6-0 ... Michael Strautmanis ... Joanna London, senior director in APCO Worldwide’s DC office ... AFL-CIO’s Drew Waxman (h/ts Anthony DeAngelo) ... Tim Bulakul of Bualuang Securities ... Brian Thomas is 54 ... Joshua Marcuse of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy and a senior policy advisor at DoD ... Rob Terra, managing director at Hamilton Place Strategies and McCain war room alum … Paul Guerin … Deloitte’s Ashley McCabe, a Menendez alum … Amelia Blackwood ... Nick Sinatra, now in real estate and a Bush WH 43 alum ... former foreign service officer Ruth Elizabeth Leonard ... Erika Mansourian, executive director of Elephant Family-USA ... Terry Neal, principal at Podesta Group and alum of Fannie Mae and WashPost ... Boeing’s Shaun Lara ... Noah Chestnut, product lead for the BuzzFeed News App (download: http://apple.co/2msSAcO) and a TNR alum, is 31 ... Peter Vallone Jr. … Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer … Lynn Krogh of The Casale Group ... Perez Hilton is 38 (h/t AP)
A White House official has said the Trump administration is reviewing whether the US will keep its policy of supporting a world without nuclear weapons. Christopher Ford is the US National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction. He is the only senior nuclear policy... [[ This is a content summary only. Visit http://FinanceArmageddon.blogspot.com or http://lindseywilliams101.blogspot.com for full links, other content, and more! ]]
A spate of stories in Breitbart and other outlets have singled out individual career employees, questioning their loyalty to Trump.
Paul R. Pillar Military Force Presidency, United States Recent press reports have described the Trump White House shaping its relationships with federal departments and agencies, especially the Department of Defense, in two different directions. On one hand, the administration reportedly is giving freer rein to the Pentagon to decide on its own about changes in, including expansion of, military operations. An example of this method of decision was the insertion of Marine artillery and an Army Ranger unit into fighting in northern Syria with no interagency review and no discussion at the level of the National Security Council as to how these deployments did or did not fit into larger U.S. objectives in Syria and what risks the deployments might entail. On the other hand, the White House has installed a system of political commissars in all departments and agencies. This arrangement involves individuals who have been inserted into the high-level executive suites of each department but who do not report to the department head or chief of staff and instead answer to a deputy chief of staff in the White House. Their job is to enforce orthodoxy by monitoring what is said and done in the department, especially by its head, to ensure consistency with White House talking points. Taken together, these two approaches to managing the executive branch, especially the national security portion of it, embrace the worst ways of executive leadership and omit the best. Read full article
Администрация США пока собирается выполнять условия соглашения по ядерной программе Ирана, заявил во вторник старший директор по оружию массового уничтожения и режиму нераспространения в Совете национальной безопасности США Кристофер Форд.
Just hours after US military officials warned of a North Korea missile launch, Japanese media is reporting that Japanese officials said North Korea may have launched four missiles from the vicinity of Eastern Motoyama. Kyodo additionally reports that the missile launch may have failed, citing unnamed government officials. *SUGA RESPONDS TO REPORTS OF NORTH KOREA LAUNCHING MISSILES *SUGA: JAPAN HASN’T CONFIRMED MISSILES FLYING *N. KOREA MISSILE LAUNCH MAY HAVE FAILED: KYODO *KYODO SAYS DETAILS INCLUDING TYPE OF N. KOREA MISSILE UNKNOWN Yonhap news is now reporting that: *S. KOREA SAYS N. KOREA MISSILE DIDN'T LAUNCH PROPERLY: YONHAP *YONHAP NEWS CITES UNIDENTIFIED S. KOREA MILITARY OFFICIAL *S. KOREA, U.S. AWARE OF N. KOREA-RELATED SITUATION: YONHAP North Korea test-fired a salvo of missiles Wednesday, but it ended in failure, South Korea's military said. "South Korea and the United States are aware of the related issue," the defense ministry said in a one-sentence statement. Bloomberg's Michael McDonough provides this excellent timeline of North Korean events and the South Korean Won... * * * As we detailed earlier, on the same day as Kim Jong Un threatens the US with "first-strike' nuclear ICBM and unveils propaganda showing the destruction of American forces, AP reports U.S. military officials expect another North Korean missile launch in the next several days. Earlier today a Pyongyang envoy stated that North Korea will pursue "acceleration" of its nuclear and missile programs. This includes developing a "pre-emptive first strike capability" and an inter-continental ballistic missile, according to Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the DPRK (North Korean) mission to the United Nations in Geneva. The latest development follows a previous report also from Reuters, in which it said the Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions as part of a broad review of measures to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threat. "I think this is stemming from the visit by the Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson) to Japan, South Korea and China...We of course are not afraid of any act like that," Choe told Reuters. "Even prohibition of the international transactions system, the global financial system, this kind of thing is part of their system that will not frighten us or make any difference." He called existing sanctions "heinous and inhumane". Choe said his country wants a forum set up to examine the "legality and legitimacy of the sanctions regime" and denounced joint annual military exercises currently being carried out by the United States and South Korea on the divided peninsula and criticized remarks by Tillerson during his talks with regional allies last week. "All he was talking about is for the United States to take military actions on DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," Choe said. Additionally, North Korea rejects claims by Washington and Seoul that the military drills taking place at this moment are defensive. They involve strategic nuclear bombers and a nuclear submarine Columbus that recently entered South Korean ports, he said. And then, just days after Kim threatened to reduce the US “to ashes” as tensions with North Korea continue to increase, which in turn followed a warning by Tillerson that the US is preparing for a "first strike" against the irrational dictator, while US special forces conduct drills in South Korea to "eliminate" the country's ruler, the Supreme Leader released his latest materpiece of propaganda, showing the USS Carl Vinson nuclear-powered aircraft carrier up in flames. And now, AP reports that the U.S. military expects another North Korean missile launch in the next several days, American defense officials said Tuesday. The officials said the U.S. has increased its surveillance over the isolated, communist country and has seen a North Korean missile launcher moving around, as well as construction of VIP seating in the eastern coastal city Wonsan. The officials, who weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the new surveillance includes satellites, drones and other aircraft. The U.S. officials on Tuesday said it's unclear what type of missile launch may be coming. North Korea previously has conducted tests in Wonsan of its medium-range ballistic Musudan missile. White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday described the North Korean threat as "grave and escalating," and a National Security Council official told a nuclear conference that the administration is conducting a high-priority review of North Korea policy. Christopher Ford, senior director for weapons of mass destruction and nonproliferation on the NSC staff, said reviewers are considering a "full spectrum of possibilities." "There's this enormously broad continuum, and we are looking at that entire conceptual space," Ford told the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference. He gave no concrete examples, but in an attempt to illustrate his point that the choices run the gamut, he said they range from "warm hamburger" to "war hammers."
Like what you read below? Sign up for HUFFPOST HILL and get a cheeky dose of political news every evening! What on Earth would the 1980s think about President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, a guy first elevated to the federal bench by George Bush’s son, being grilled so thoroughly by Senator Al Franken? Trump will meet with the Congressional Black Caucus tomorrow, and why it took April Ryan to arrange the meeting is beyond us. And Twitter erupted in a flurry of “Find you a man who looks at you like Ted Cruz looks at Neil Gorsuch,” memes, but, once again, Heidi’s feelings were left out of the equation. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 21st, 2017: TRUMP BIFFING AHCA - Michael McAuliff and Matt Fuller: “President Donald Trump made a personal pitch for his Affordable Care Act repeal bid Tuesday, promising that Republicans who vote against the bill will face political consequences…. Trump argued that the party’s future ― and by extension, his legacy ― is on the line. And if members did not fall in line, especially the conservatives of the House Freedom Caucus, Republicans would pay a price. ‘If the Freedom Caucus kills this bill, which they could, then they will have voted to continue Obamacare, which, as the president pointed out, in 2018 probably means we would lose the House and the Senate,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.).’ … Both his political capital and much of his remaining domestic legislative agenda rests on passage of this, lawmakers said…. But even with these moves and the stakes Trump laid out Tuesday, the president ― at least so far ― appeared to have swayed only a few votes.” [HuffPost] But how can we make people…sicker? “The Freedom Caucus is now pushing for the elimination of certain minimum coverage standards mandated by the Affordable Care Act ― the so-called ‘Essential Health Benefits,’ which are minimum services that insurance plans must offer, like hospitalization and lab services. Conservatives also have their sights on similar language in Title I of the ACA that constitutes a ‘Qualified Health Plan.’ Eliminating those mandates would lower premiums because insurers could offer plans with huge gaps in coverage.” [HuffPost’s Matt Fuller] GORSUCH, DAY TWO: ORIGINALIST BOOGALOO - We just today realized how much Neil Gorsuch could be Anthony Bourdain’s older brother, Neil Gorsuch (this fictional brother would also be named “Neil”). Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung: “Answering questions from senators during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Gorsuch said Trump never asked him to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide, saying if the Republican president had done so ‘I would have walked out the door.’ … Democrats probed Gorsuch on whether he would be willing to hold Trump accountable. Asked by Senator Patrick Leahy whether a president has the power to violate a law on surveillance of Americans, Gorsuch said, ‘Nobody is above the law in this country, and that includes the president of the United States.’” [Reuters] Congratulations to the Brady Campaign: “[Gorsuch] said Tuesday that the court’s 2008 decision declaring a fundamental right to possess guns for self-defense in the home is settled law. ‘[District of Columbia v.] Heller is the law of the land,’ Gorsuch told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on the second day of his confirmation hearing. ‘Whatever is in Heller is the law, and I follow the law,’ he said earlier during that same exchange.” [HuffPost’s Cristian Farias] Like HuffPost Hill? Then order Eliot’s book, The Beltway Bible: A Totally Serious A-Z Guide To Our No-Good, Corrupt, Incompetent, Terrible, Depressing, and Sometimes Hilarious Government Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It’s free! Sign up here. Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to [email protected] Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill UKRAINIAN LAWMAKER ACCUSES BANNON IN MONEY-LAUNDERING SCHEME - Is there a word that is more salacious-sounding — but only when in a political context — than “payments”? Andrew Roth: “A Ukrainian lawmaker released new financial documents Tuesday allegedly showing that a former campaign chairman for President Trump laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan. The new documents, if legitimate, stem from business ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who enjoyed Moscow’s backing while he was in power. He has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protesters in 2014, and is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges.” [WaPo] RUST BELT GOING TO BE SO GREAT AGAIN - Our web-toed children will be able to be so much more efficient at their jobs. Arthur Delaney: “The Trump administration’s budget proposal would slash overall EPA funding by a third and would cut the budget for the agency’s enforcement division by a fifth. Echoing comments that [EPA Administrator Scott] Pruitt has made over the years, the budget proposal said the EPA should focus its enforcement work on federal laws for which states aren’t primary enforcers. One regulation for which states have primary responsibility is the federal Lead and Copper Rule ― the regulation that Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality admitted it failed to enforce in Flint, leading to the water crisis.” [HuffPost] BREITBART UNDER INVESTIGATION - Peter Stone and Greg Gordon: “Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation…. Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed.. millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bot attacks are part of an FBI-led investigation into a multifaceted Russian operation to influence last year’s elections. Investigators examining the bot attacks are exploring whether the far-right news operations took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives. Their participation, however, wasn’t necessary for the bots to amplify their news through Twitter and Facebook.” [McClatchy] OTHER-IZING! GET YER FRESH HOT OTHER-IZING HERE! - This is the Ground Zero Mosque on steroids. Akbar Shahid Ahmed: “The Republican Party of Virginia is attacking the state’s Democratic attorney general, Mark Herring, for visiting one of the U.S.’s largest mosques to talk about President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. ‘On March 17, Mark Herring joined with a Hamas-linked group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to host a town hall to oppose the Trump Administration’s efforts to keep Americans safe from terrorism,’ reads a petition on the state Republican Party’s website that appears designed to collect emails. ‘Sign our petition to demand that Mark Herring apologize to the victims of Islamic terrorism.’ The message’s characterization of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a major Muslim civil society organization, as an affiliate of the Palestinian terror group Hamas echoes a theory that is popular in the right-wing media and Islamophobic circles but has never been proven.” [HuffPost] LOCAL TV NEWS IS TERRIBLE - Coming up next on Good Morning, Tulsa, the resurrected corpse of Joseph Goebbels shares his secret blueberry pancakes recipe! Michael Calderone: “The president’s bogus ‘wiretap’ claim was surely on the mind of other Washington journalists Monday afternoon given that FBI Director James Comey dismissed it during a congressional hearing that morning. Comey also confirmed in that hearing that the FBI is investigating several Trump associates regarding Russia’s alleged attempt to influence the 2016 election. But when Trump did a couple interviews hours later with local newscasts prior to his rally in Louisville, Kentucky, those two stories consuming the capital didn’t come up. A representative for a Cincinnati station interviewing Trump says they chose to focus on local concerns, while a Louisville reporter who spoke to the president said those two issues were off limits.” [HuffPost] ‘FIRST DAUGHTER,’ NOT A CRAPPY 90s MOVIE YOU FORGOT ABOUT - ICYMI. Annie Karni: “Ivanka Trump, who moved to Washington saying she would play no formal role in her father’s administration...has secured her own office on the West Wing’s second floor — a space next to senior adviser Dina Powell, who was recently promoted to a position on the National Security Council. She is also in the process of obtaining a security clearance and is set to receive government-issued communications devices this week…. As her role in the White House grows — a role that comes with no playbook — Trump plans to adhere to the same ethics and records retention rules that apply to government employees, Gorelick said, even though she is not technically an employee. But ethics watchdogs immediately questioned whether she is going far enough to eliminate conflicts of interest, especially because she will not be automatically subjected to certain ethics rules while serving as a de facto White House adviser.” [Politico] THE KNEE BONE CONNECTS TO THE...SKULL - News from Texas, where you can vote with a gun license but not a student ID. Catherine Pearson: “Senate Bill 25, which will now be sent to the Texas House, prevents parents from suing their medical provider if their baby is born with disabilities, even if that doctor discovered the condition during routine prenatal testing and failed to inform the parents. The architects of the so-called ‘wrongful-birth’ bill have argued it would protect children with disabilities and prevent doctors from facing unnecessary lawsuits. ‘It is unacceptable that doctors can be penalized for embracing the sanctity of life,’ Senator Brandon Creighton (R-TX) said in a press release when he introduced the legislation last fall. But reproductive rights advocates have been relentless in their criticism of the measure, arguing that it would effectively make it lawful for a care provider who is opposed to abortion to avoid prenatal testing, downplay test results or even lie to patients about results if they believe those patients might consider terminating a pregnancy.” [HuffPost] BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a cat with eyes like a hawk. LOL, LIKE DONALD TRUMP WOULD PART WITH $500 - Anna R. Schecter: “Donald Trump’s business, The Trump Organization, is in violation of New York City law, NBC News has learned. The Trump Tower skyscraper located at 725 Fifth Avenue — where President Trump and Melania live in the penthouse apartment and his two eldest sons work in offices just below — is not registered this year with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development, a spokeswoman for the department confirmed on Tuesday…. Failing to register can result in a fine of up to $500, and revokes some of the rights usually enjoyed by property owners.” [NBC News] COMFORT FOOD - The sickest burns about Roger Stone’s inauguration outfit. - A dictionary made up of analogies rather than definitions. - History’s most unsatisfying video. TWITTERAMA @samsteinhp: Yes, the president with the 39% approval rating under FBI investigation will save you politically for your vote on an unpopular HC bill. @GregJKrieg: Cruz very impressed by Byron White’s ability to throw ball through ring @okkervilriver: Looking back, the amount of time they spent in grade school drilling the spelling of “Mississippi” into our heads seems disproportionate. Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson ([email protected]) -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
The secretary of state is igniting criticism for appearing to rebuff NATO and ditching other protocols.
Onward and Upward with U.S. Central CommandCross-posted with TomDispatch.com By way of explaining his eight failed marriages, the American bandleader Artie Shaw once remarked, “I am an incurable optimist.” In reality, Artie was an incurable narcissist. Utterly devoid of self-awareness, he never looked back, only forward. So, too, with the incurable optimists who manage present-day American wars. What matters is not past mistakes but future opportunities. This describes the view of General Joseph Votel, current head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). Since its creation in 1983, CENTCOM has emerged as the ne plus ultra of the Pentagon’s several regional commands, the place where the action is always hot and heavy. Votel is the latest in a long train of four-star generals to preside over that action. The title of this essay (exclamation point included: Prepare, Pursue, Prevail!) captures in a single phrase the “strategic approach” that Votel has devised for CENTCOM. That approach, according to the command’s website, is “proactive in nature and endeavors to set in motion tangible actions in a purposeful, consistent, and continuous manner.” This strategic approach forms but one element in General Votel’s multifaceted (if murky) “command narrative,” which he promulgated last year upon taking the helm at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Other components include a “culture,” a “vision,” a “mission,” and “priorities.” CENTCOM’s culture emphasizes “persistent excellence,” as the command “strives to understand and help others to comprehend, with granularity and clarity, the complexities of our region.” The vision, indistinguishable from the mission except perhaps for those possessing advanced degrees in hermeneutics, seeks to provide “a more stable and prosperous region with increasingly effective governance, improved security, and trans-regional cooperation.” Toward that estimable end, CENTCOM’s priorities include forging partnerships with other nations “based upon shared values,” “actively counter[ing] the malign influence” of hostile regimes, and “degrading and defeating violent extremist organizations and their networks.” At present, CENTCOM is busily implementing the several components of Votel’s command narrative across an “area of responsibility” (AOR) consisting of 20 nations, among them Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. As the CENTCOM website puts it, without batting a digital eyelash, that AOR “spans more than 4 million square miles and is populated by more than 550 million people from 22 ethnic groups, speaking 18 languages with hundreds of dialects and confessing multiple religions which transect national borders.” According to the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, an AOR is the “geographical area associated with a combatant command within which a geographic combatant commander has authority to plan and conduct operations.” Yet this anodyne definition fails to capture the spirit of the enterprise in which General Votel is engaged. One imagines that there must be another Department of Defense Dictionary, kept under lock-and-key in the Pentagon, that dispenses with the bland language and penchant for deceptive euphemisms. That dictionary would define an AOR as “a vast expanse within which the United States seeks to impose order without exercising sovereignty.” An AOR combines aspects of colony, protectorate, and contested imperial frontier. In that sense, the term represents the latest incarnation of the informal empire that American elites have pursued in various forms ever since U.S. forces “liberated” Cuba in 1898. To say that a military officer presiding over an AOR plans and conducts operations is a bit like saying that Jeff Bezos sells books. It’s a small truth that evades a larger one. To command CENTCOM is to function as a proconsul, to inhabit as a co-equal the rarified realm of kings, presidents, and prime ministers. CENTCOM commanders shape the future of their AOR ― or at least fancy that they do. For CENTCOM, history is a record of events selected and arranged to demonstrate progress. Sustaining expectations of shaping the future requires a suitably accommodating version of the past. For CENTCOM, history is a record of events selected and arranged to demonstrate progress. By testifying to the achievements of previous CENTCOM commanders, history thereby validates Votel’s own efforts to carry on their work. Not for nothing, therefore, does the command’s website include this highly sanitized account of its recent past: “In the wake of 9-11, the international community found Saddam Hussein’s continued lack of cooperation with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions regarding weapons of mass destruction unacceptable. Hussein’s continued recalcitrance led the UNSC to authorize the use of force by a U.S.-led coalition. Operation Iraqi Freedom began 19 March 2003. “Following the defeat of both the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (9 November 2001) and Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq (8 April 2003), CENTCOM has continued to provide security to the new freely-elected governments in those countries, conducting counterinsurgency operations and assisting host nation security forces to provide for their own defense.” Setbacks, disappointments, miscalculations, humiliations: you won’t hear about them from CENTCOM. Like Broadway’s Annie, down at headquarters in Tampa they’re “just thinkin’ about tomorrow,” which “clears away the cobwebs, and the sorrow, till there’s none!” (Give the Vietnam War the CENTCOM treatment and you would end up with something like this: “Responding to unprovoked North Vietnamese attacks and acting at the behest of the international community, a U.S.-led coalition arrived to provide security to the freely-elected South Vietnamese government, conducting counterinsurgency operations and assisting host nation security forces to provide for their own defense.”) In fact, the U.N. Security Council did not authorize the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Indeed, efforts by George W. Bush’s administration to secure such an authorization failed abysmally, collapsing in a welter of half-truths and outright falsehoods. What much of the international community found unacceptable, more so even than Saddam’s obstreperousness, was Bush’s insistence that he was going to have his war regardless of what others might think. As for celebrating the “defeat” of the Taliban and of Saddam, that’s the equivalent of declaring “game over” when the whistle sounds ending the first quarter of a football game. Setbacks, disappointments, miscalculations, humiliations: you won’t hear about them from CENTCOM. More to the point, to claim that, in the years since, CENTCOM “has continued to provide security to the new freely-elected governments” of Afghanistan and Iraq whitewashes history in ways that would cause the most shameless purveyor of alt-facts on Fox News to blush. The incontestable truth is that Afghans and Iraqis have not known security since U.S. forces, under the direction of General Votel’s various predecessors, arrived on the scene. Rather than providing security, CENTCOM has undermined it. CENTCOM Headquarters (Where It’s Always Groundhog Day) Even so, as the current steward of CENTCOM’s culture, vision, mission, strategic approach, and priorities, General Votel remains undaunted. In his view, everything that happened prior to his assuming ownership of the CENTCOM AOR is irrelevant. What matters is what will happen from now on ― in Washington-speak, “going forward.” As with Artie Shaw, serial disappointments leave intact the conviction that persistence will ultimately produce a happy ending. Earlier this month, Votel provided a progress report to the Senate Armed Services Committee and outlined his expectations for future success. In a city that now competes for the title of Comedy Central, few paid serious attention to what the CENTCOM commander had to say. Yet his presentation was, in its own way, emblematic of how, in the Age of Trump, U.S. national security policy has become fully divorced from reality. General Votel began by inventorying the various “drivers of instability” afflicting his AOR. That list, unsurprisingly enough, turned out to be a long one, including ethnic and sectarian divisions, economic underdevelopment, an absence of opportunity for young people “susceptible to unrest [and] radical ideologies,” civil wars, humanitarian crises, large refugee populations, and “competition among outside actors, including Russia and China, seeking to promote their interests and supplant U.S. influence in the region.” Not qualifying for mention as destabilizing factors, however, were the presence and activities of U.S. military forces, their footprint dwarfing that of Russia and China. Indeed, the balance of Votel’s 64-page written statement argued, in effect, that U.S. military activities are the key to fixing all that ails the CENTCOM AOR. After making a brief but obligatory bow to the fact that “a solely military response is not sufficient” to address the region’s problems, he proceeded to describe at length the military response (and only the military response) that will do just that. Unfortunately for General Votel, length does not necessarily correlate with substance. Once upon a time, American military professionals prized brevity and directness in their writing. Not so the present generation of generals who are given to logorrhea. Consider just this bit of cliché-ridden drivel ― I could quote vast passages of it ― that Votel inflicted on members of the United States Senate. “In a region beset by myriad challenges,” he reported, “we must always be on the look-out for opportunities to seize the initiative to support our objectives and goals. Pursuing opportunities means that we are proactive ― we don’t wait for problems to be presented; we look for ways to get ahead of them. It also means that we have to become comfortable with transparency and flat communications ― our ability to understand our AOR better than anyone else gives us the advantage of knowing where opportunities exist. Pursuing opportunities also means we have to take risk ― by delegating authority and responsibility to the right level, by trusting our partners, and being willing to trust our best instincts in order to move faster than our adversaries.” In third-tier business schools, bromides of this sort might pass for “best practices.” But my guess is that George C. Marshall or Dwight D. Eisenhower would award the author of that paragraph an F and return him to staff college for further instruction. Frothy verbiage aside, what exactly does General Votel propose? The answer ― for those with sufficient patience to wade through the entire 64 pages ― reduces to this: persist. In concrete terms, that means keeping on killing and enabling our “allies” to do the same until the other side is finally exhausted and gives up. In other words, it’s the movie Groundhog Day transposed from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to Tampa and then to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries where the bodies continue to pile up. True, the document Votel presented to Congress is superficially comprehensive, with sections touting everything from “Building Partner Capacity” (“we must be forward-leaning and empower our partners to meet internal security challenges”) to creating a “Global Engagement Center” (“The best way to defeat an idea is to present a better, more appealing idea”). Strip away the fluff, however, and what’s left is nothing more than a call to keep doing what CENTCOM has been doing for years now. To see what all this really means, practically speaking, just check out CENTCOM press releases for the week of March 5th through 10th. The titles alone suffice to describe a situation where every day is like the one that preceded it: March 5: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq March 6: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq March 7: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq March 8: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq March 9: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq March 10: Military airstrikes continue against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq As the good nuns used to tell me back in parochial school, actions speak louder than words. What the CENTCOM commander says matters less than what CENTCOM forces do. What they are doing is waging an endless war of attrition. Ludendorff Would Have Approved “Punch a hole and let the rest follow.” During the First World War, that aphorism, attributed to General Erich Ludendorff, captured the essence of the German army’s understanding of strategy, rooted in the conviction that violence perpetrated on a sufficient scale over a sufficient period of time will ultimately render a politically purposeless war purposeful. The formula didn’t work for Germany in Ludendorff’s day and yielded even more disastrous results when Hitler revived it two decades later. ... Serial disappointments leave intact the conviction that persistence will ultimately produce a happy ending. Of course, U.S. military commanders today don’t make crude references to punching holes. They employ language that suggests discrimination, deliberation, precision, and control as the qualities that define the American way of war. They steer clear of using terms like attrition. Yet differences in vocabulary notwithstanding, the U.S. military’s present-day MO bears a considerable resemblance to the approach that Ludendorff took fully a century ago. And for the last decade and a half, U.S. forces operating in the CENTCOM AOR have been no more successful than were German forces on the Western Front in achieving the purposes that ostensibly made war necessary. To divert attention from this disturbing fact, General Votel offers Congress and by extension the American people a 64-page piece of propaganda. Whether he himself is deluded or dishonest is difficult to say, just as it remains difficult to say whether General William Westmoreland was deluded or dishonest when he assured Congress in November 1967 that victory in Vietnam was in sight. “With 1968,” Westmoreland promised, “a new phase is now starting. We have reached an important point when the end begins now to come into view.” Westmoreland was dead wrong, as the enemy’s 1968 Tet Offensive soon demonstrated. That a comparable disaster, no doubt different in form, will expose Votel’s own light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel assessment as equally fraudulent is a possibility, even if one to which American political and military leaders appear to be oblivious. This much is certain: in the CENTCOM AOR the end is not even remotely in view. What are we to make of this charade of proconsuls parading through Washington to render false or misleading reports on the status of the American empire’s outer precincts? Perhaps the time has come to look elsewhere for advice and counsel. Whether generals like Votel are deluded or dishonest is ultimately beside the point. More relevant is the fact that the views they express ― and that inexplicably continue to carry weight in Washington ― are essentially of no value. So many years later, no reason exists to believe that they know what they are doing. To reground U.S. national security policy in something that approximates reality would require listening to new voices, offering views long deemed heretical. Let me nonetheless offer you an example: “Fifteen years after launching a worldwide effort to defeat and destroy terrorist organizations, the United States finds itself locked in a pathologically recursive loop; we fight to prevent attacks and defend our values, only to incite further violence against ourselves and allies while destabilizing already chaotic regions...” That is not the judgment of some lefty from Cambridge or San Francisco, but of Major John Q. Bolton, a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghan Wars. Within that brief passage is more wisdom than in all of General Votel’s 64 pages of blather. I submit that Bolton’s grasp of our predicament is infinitely superior to Votel’s. The contrast between the two is striking. The officer who wears no stars dares to say what is true; the officer wearing four stars obfuscates. If the four-stars abandon obfuscation for truth, then and only then will they deserve our respectful attention. In the meantime, it’s like looking to Artie Shaw for marriage counseling. Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is the author most recently of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.